All roads will lead to the Dubai International Cricket Stadium this Sunday as it gears up to host the mother of all battles on the cricket pitch – India versus Pakistan. Both teams will open their campaigns in the Super 12 stage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 with what is billed to be a mouth-watering clash.
After almost over two years, Virat Kohli and Co. will face-off against Babar Azam-led Pakistan and rekindle the age-old rivalry. Pakistan is yet to get a one-up over India in World Cups as the head-to-head has been heavily dominated by the Men in Blue. However, both teams have entered the tournament with a fresh perspective, filled to the brim with enormous young talent and the hunger and eagerness to prove themselves on the biggest stage of them all.
Virat will be eyeing a huge victory over the rivals, which will also set the precedent and momentum in the marquee tournament. The mentorship of MS Dhoni will help in resonating a positive mindset and confidence amongst the Indian team. Exceptional performances topped by victories in the two warm-up games against England and Australia have been massive confidence boosters for young talents like Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant and Rahul Chahar, who have showcased their talent and skill ahead of the opener.
The opening pair of KL Rahul and ‘Hitman’ Rohit Sharma have shown their prowess and never cease to impress. Jasprit Bumrah’s job with the white ball will be to once again hunt at the top and shut down the dangerous early efforts of Babar Azam with the bat.
For Pakistan, skipper Babar is their biggest hope with the bat. His 50 off 41 balls against the West Indies in the warm-up game is a warning sign for India because once the 27-year-old gets going, he becomes very difficult to contain. Currently ranked second in the ICC Men’s T20I rankings, the Pakistan captain averages a remarkable 46.89 in T20 internationals.
Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez bring a comforting amount of experience to the Pakistan side, their previous experience of playing against India in World Cups will be a definite advantage for the team. Shaheen Afridi, a 21-year-old prospect proven in the Pakistan Super League, has dished out top performances in both warm-up games by picking up a total of 4 wickets.
Hasan Ali looks to be the standout pacer for the Men in Green. The lanky pacer excels on the slower wickets in the UAE, his variations and lengths will be a tough task for the Indian batters to manage and they must play him with a cautious approach at the top.
The stakes are at an all-time high with Kohli and Co. looking to continue their dominance against Pakistan in ICC World Cups. Both sides have a strong lineup and it will be about keeping calm and rising to the occasion when they set foot on the pitch come Sunday.
India Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Varun Chakravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Mohammad Shami.
Pakistan Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Shoaib Malik. (ANI)